Dragon and Herdsman (Dragonback, #4)
by Timothy Zahn (Goodreads Author)
In this fourth book of the series, Jack and Draycos visit a distant planet with their friend, Alison Kayna. They discover a herd of creatures called Phooka that appear similar to K’da like Draycos. However, the creatures are insentient, unintelligent, slow, and behave like animals with no language. Draycos wonders if his people, the K’da, could have evolved from this lower animal form. He questions what that could mean for his species in the future.
The mercenaries from the Malison Ring track Jack and Draycos to the planet, forcing them all to flee into the dense forest. Jack must herd the Phooka through miles of dangerous terrain to save them from being slaughtered by the mercenaries.
This book took the whole series to another level. There are so many questions about the Phooka and what they are capable of. Draycos is really agitated by the idea that the entire history of his species could be a lie.
Alison and Jack begin to trust each other a little bit more, and Alison becomes an integral part of their plans. But there is still that little nagging question: Is Alison really on their side? She obviously has her own plans and objectives that she is keeping secret, so why is she really teaming up with Jack and Draycos?
There is also something weird going on between Jack and Draycos. They seem to almost read each other’s thoughts because they work so closely together. But are they really sharing thoughts in some telepathic way, or is it just that Jack is starting to believe in Draycos’ honorable warrior ethic? Draycos seems to be getting stronger and smarter, and Jack is much more confident and mature. Are they influencing each other in some mystical way? I love that this book opens up a lot of new questions to be answered as the series progresses.
There are so many clever plot twists as they are dodging the mercenaries, skulking through the forest and avoiding their carefully planned ambushes. They get into some really sticky situations with bullets flying everywhere, but they are so resourceful and smart to figure out ways to use the enemies’ weapons against them. It’s really exciting and full of action!
I love all the characters, the plot, the themes, the writing style! Everything about this book is just so delightful. I can’t wait to read more from the series!